What’s on your (IFA) mind?


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Have you ever logged onto a social media site and wonder if you’ve accidentally swallowed the blue pill (Matrix ref)?

Yep, I’m talking Facebook.

I never used it that much, with only a grand total of 32 ‘friends’.  I thought it might help keep touch with people from my village back in Oz, then before I knew it, I was inundated with ‘News Feed’ from many who would over-share stuff best kept to themselves.  Daily updates from a woman who caught her out partner whilst on a weekend away, and several in an apparent competition to be declared ‘who is most in love’ with their partner.

Oh, and the political rants.

I came to despise it.  I questioned why I put up with it?  Why was I on some narcissistic-online trip? I was unknowingly allowing myself to be dragged in, even with my tiny ‘friend’ list.

So I just deleted it!

Is Twitter any different though?

I went on originally for a daily water  cooler moment; a quick chat once or twice, then back to work.  I quite enjoy ‘chatting’ with many folk which isn’t directly possible on fb, and have met several of them, complete strangers of course, to date.  Left wing, right wing, atheist, christian, gay, straight or Australian (ref Royale Family): I talk to them all, as I love hearing stories and listening to different opinions.  Just us and a coffee, a good chat over a tweet and then I’m off.  Never for gaining clients; now that would be creepy.

As yet I’ve not met any IFAs and wonder if it is a Twitter thing, or maybe the industry.

I just can’t relate to #winning or ‘I’ve never been so busy’ tweets or fond talk of electronic toys that appear to define success.  We’re in the money business right, so I suppose nice things define and reward our success?  You can afford and deserve, but must we know about it.  I really need to hear you’ve just bought the iphone6, after getting rid of the iphone5 you only scored at its launch last year.  Nothing wrong with the old one, but it now puts you head and shoulders above those who don’t have it yet.  You are consumer gold, and good on you for it.  #legend

I’d rather talk about real life: how you baked something with your kids on the weekend, how only one of you at home is in paid work, how you walk the kids to school, how you grew something in the garden or played a board game with the kids on Saturday rather than play those utterly rubbish things on the ipad.  It’s more interesting to hear how people spend time, which is more limited than money.  It’s brilliant to see when people take the red pill and make drastic changes to find reality and discover the important things.

The irony is, this sort of lifestyle costs money (or does it), yet it’s rarely the subject of a tweet.

Maybe it’s just the industry which upholds glossy weekly mags, seemingly more ‘Hello’ magazine, than trade publication, suggesting stuff and Funds Under Management define IFA success.  Always bigging up the client-consolidators building ever-more profitable national IFAs: the ‘Tesco’ model of financial advice.  ‘Horse-meat’ advice anyone?  I just can’t get enough of the pools, boats, helicopters and ornate furniture adorned by sad, but well-dressed children.  You really are inspirational, but not in that way to me.

No, I’m not anti-aspirational; quite the opposite actually and nice stuff, is well, very nice now and then.  I love nice stuff, but it knows its place in my life.  When everything is special, just any old (new) thing is never enough for long,  as we aim for better and better things we don’t yet have in our lives.  As for hearing you need to reach that £billion  in FUMs before 50: just how much is enough?  I’d actually be more keen to hear ‘why’ you keep going, than the ‘how’ you do it.  Every next year must be better than the last; better car, phone or house.

Maybe I seek something too simple for this industry, yet it’s the thing we need to promote.

We need to encourage people to get real, and if ‘what’s on your mind’, is ‘my life sucks’, you need to take action and maybe we can help.  Oh yeah, and we might do something with pensions too (ie in that order).  Even when one FP guru (who I quite like) talks about lifestyle, it’s defined in terms of boats, cars and holidays.  Why is there a need to impress each other with this stuff, all the time?  It feels so much like it’s leading us the wrong way.  I wonder if it really engages people other than lauding consumerism.

I’ll happily tell you I’m rubbish at many things, and still unable to run a marathon under 4 hours, but I love the freedom and thinking space a good run gives me.  I don’t care that you’ve done 12 in a week.  One is bloody great stuff.  For me, running gives me perspective on life as others rush past me on the track or on the road in their cars.  I really want to know what motivates or makes you proud, other than Apple or Armani.  I’d love to also know what you’ve done for someone else lately; not for work or even with your work mentioned.  Not with your money you donated, but your time.  Now that’s impressive as we’re (mostly) all equals on this one.

The irony is, advocating financial advice around a modest life, would solve more problems in our busy world and maybe open a market we’ve stepped over.  **Cue for business-obsessed folk out there; money to be made here?**  Maybe we might bring about less depression, reduce divorce and help make people happier with less: more sacrifice, and less Spanx.  Perhaps we don’t do promote it, as we’re worried the people with really big pensions won’t think we’re successful enough.

It is particularly ironic that Financial Planning Week finishes on Black Friday.  It’s almost like, ‘OK guys, we’ve had enough of your financial planning surgeries, BORE-ing, we’ll sort it out next year when I put my £10 a week into that auto-enrolment pension.  Let’s spend now’!  Sad but true, as about a £billion (#madeup) gets spent on a single day.  The retailers get people more than we do.  Even the much loved and very well known TV/Finance guru is in there too, with his own TV show encouraging people to spend, er, sorry, save.  He gets it too, but really isn’t much help in making change; always ready with a deal and special code at a friendly website for a cheap crate of plonk for under a tenner.

So, after 1000 words I’m just wondering if I am a loner on this, or are there a few who feel the same way?

I’d love to have a coffee with you and talk ‘red pill’ stuff.  What are we actually going to do to make things real and advocate a simple life, with fewer luxuries and more grit.  Or for sake of saying something that’s real to this post, will you just hide my comment (like the video) and move on to the next #winning, but phoney post?

#justsayin